Costa Rica Has One of the 10 Best Gardens in America

    La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park

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    Lonely Planet, one of the largest travel guides in the world, highlighted the 10 best gardens in the Americas. Among them, the publication highlights one located in Costa Rica, the only one in Central America and one of the two in Latin America.

    La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park

    It is the La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, located in Vara Blanca de Alajuela on the so-called “ecological route” between San José and Arenal. This is a private property nestled between the Poas Volcano National Park and Braulio Carrillo National Park, which is about 45 minutes – 1 hour from San Jose.

    This green lung of 28 hectares of rolling terrain between 1,200 and 1,500 meters was formerly a ranch dedicated to cattle, horses and goats. Lonely Planet notes that in the 1990s American Lee Banks bought the property because he wanted a garden. But weather conditions posed a challenge as to what type of vegetation to plant to reforest the site.


    He first tried to grow gingers, heliconias and other plants but within months almost everything died. But his neighbors advised him to plant calla lilies, cannas, hydrangeas and mountain papyrus. Later he planted flowering banana trees and altitude bromeliads.

    Tropical plants resprouted

    “A year later there was a surprise: several of the tropical plants resprouted under the other plants. Banks cloned them, scattered them around the garden and watched them thrive,” was reported.

    More than a garden

    This Spanish media also echoed Lonely Planet’s publication. In its text, the newspaper added that Banks opened a five-star hotel (The Peace Lodge), three restaurants, two swimming pools, a trout pond and an animal rescue center.

    “Today, visitors stroll through a butterfly observatory, lure hummingbirds to feeders and watch jaguars devour fresh meat. Through the forest runs a trail flanked by micro-orchids and punctuated by platforms overlooking five 20- to 37-meter-high waterfalls, which can be viewed from all angles. The most recent addition is a cathedral-sized spa by the lake, with yoga, meditation and steam rooms, which is filled daily with ginger and heliconias, because the tropical flowers never rest,” described the review.

    The other gardens

    Lonely Planet’s publication lists the other nine outstanding gardens on the continent. In fact, there are only three outside the United States and Canada: Barbados and Colombia and, of course, Costa Rica.

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